“Canadian Nightmare”

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Murray Dobbin has a must-read story in today’s Vancouver Sun about how Sun News is gaming the system to get the necessary license to become “Fox News North.” He also reports that this is what it appears to be: an attempt by the Harper government to install a right wing news organization that will serve as the propaganda arm for its agenda.

Here is the most chilling part of the story:

One of the most unnerving aspects of this story is that it was Harper himself who seems to have got the ball rolling for a news network devoted to his political project. According to reporter Bruce Cheadle, of the Canadian Press “on March 30, 2009,“Prime Minister Stephen Harper sat down for lunch in New York with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes.

Ailes is the longtime Republican communications guru who is the president of Fox News Channel, which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corp. Harper’s [then] communications director Kory Teneycke was also present.”

It must surely be unprecedented that a Canadian Prime Minister would be having a secret personal luncheon with one of the world’s most powerful right-wing media barons and the head of his most virulent broadcaster.  (The meeting was only discovered by CP when it examined media consultant Ari Fleischer’s mandatory disclosures with the U.S. Justice Department. The former Bush media flak was doing consulting work for Harper at the time.)

We can’t know exactly what was discussed but we do know that Harper holds virtually all of the Canadian media in contempt and has gone to extraordinary lengths to control his “message” – sending out his own photos; refusing interviews with the national press gallery, sneaking into the House of Commons through a side entrance so the media can’t engage him. Now he hopes to have a channel all to himself.

There can be little doubt that Harper is behind the Fox news North idea. Just four months after that meeting, according to Cheadle, immediately after Teneycke left the PMO, he got a contract with Quebecor to explore the Fox news north project.

Peladeau met at least twice with Harper in the first part of 2009 and also met with cabinet heavyweights Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement and James Moore. The project is moving ahead at breakneck speed with it proponents clearly hoping to make it a fait accomplis before anyone can do anything about it.

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